Sixteen teams play in the elimination tournament each year
: the top three teams in each of the four NHL divisions, and then the top four teams with the best records are invited as wild cards.
The Stanley Cup Finals are the last of four rounds in the tournament. All playoff rounds are the best of seven matches.
The Montreal Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup 24 times, the most of any team.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have won the second most championships, 11.
Since 1893, there have been only two years without a Stanley Cup winner: 1919 and 2005.
The trophy's original name
was the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup and is on permanent display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
The trophy cup reportedly has had many adventures
, such as being forgotten on the side of the road, being kicked into a canal and taken into a swimming pool.
Each player and front-office member of a Stanley Cup winning team gets to spend one day that year with the trophy. Since the early 1990s, Cup minders have chaperoned the trophy while it is traveling.
After each Stanley Cup championship, the names of everyone on the winning team are etched onto a tier of the trophy.
1892 - The Stanley Cup trophy is donated by Canadian Governor General, Frederick Arthur, Lord Stanley of Preston.
1893 - The Montreal Amateur Athletic Association wins the first Stanley Cup.
1909 - The Ottawa Senators become the first professional team to win the trophy.
1910 - Amateur teams are no longer able to compete for the Cup.
1919 - Stanley Cup finals are canceled because of the Spanish flu global pandemic.
1927 - The National Hockey League takes sole possession of the Stanley Cup trophy.
1962 - The trophy is stolen from Chicago Stadium by an angry fan during the playoffs.
1963 - A new cup, known as the Presentation Cup, is made due to the fragility of the original.
1993 - A third cup, known as the Replica Cup, is created to be displayed in the Hockey Hall of Fame while the Presentation Cup travels with the championship winners each year.
The entire NHL season and subsequent Stanley Cup finals are canceled
over a labor dispute. The lockout ends when the NHL and the NHL Players' Association finalize a six-year collective bargaining agreement.